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DOD Funding to Help Protect Sagebrush Ecosystems

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Smith Creek Ranch, one of many private ranches located within the project area. Image courtesy NRCS.

Nevada Receives $2 Million Award from Department of Defense for Sage Lands Habitat Projects

CARSON CITY — The Department of Defense announced this week more than $2 million for a collaboration to help protect and enhance sagebrush lands near Fallon Naval Air Station’s training ranges.

More than 11,000 acres of sage-grouse habitat occupy these lands.

“This unique partnership between the military and environmental partners is the first of its kind in Nevada, and I appreciate having the military as a new partner in our efforts to protect sagebrush habitat and the greater sage-grouse,” said Governor Brian Sandoval.

The project’s purpose is to leverage funds from various agencies to help reduce the chance that the greater sage grouse will be listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Rancher Duane Coombs, of Smith Creek Ranch, said that the project is a positive step forward

“It’s really exciting to see people in the West coming together over this (issue) and trying to work together,” he said. “This is a big step working with DOD and NRCS and the ranching community … to make a huge difference. I just can’t say how pleased I am that DOD has become part of this effort to conserve greater sage grouse and to conserve the lifestyle and communities here in the West.”

Project goals include sage-grouse habitat loss reduction, research and monitoring efforts and conservation easements. It is expected that pinyon and juniper, which encroaches into sagebrush lands and reduces sage-grouse habitat, will be removed as part of the project, as well as fence improvements, refined grazing and springs restoration.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to decide soon on whether to list the sage grouse as endangered. The bi-state sage-grouse population was recently celebrated after it was not listed as endangered because of similar conservation efforts on Nevada-California sagebrush lands.

Partners on the project include the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Naval Air Station Fallon, the Nevada Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, the Nevada Conservation Districts Program, the Bureau of Land Management and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.

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